Light at the End of the Tunnel

EDITORIAL. As a good friend of mine never fails to point out when I enthusiastically announce a light at the end of the tunnel, from a distance you can never tell whether it’s actually an oncoming train. Sceptics always find a way to dampen your expectations.

In fact, who can blame them, the sceptics in the European film family? The recent financial crisis, cuts in arts funding and dwindling audiences have provided ample reason for pessimism.

Anyway, whether it is an oncoming train or not, we can at least enjoy the light for a few moments before it hits us.

2010 proved that there is much to be excited about in Danish cinema, judging from the films that made their way to the theatres – even if the earnings of the industry are still far from acceptable.

Susanne Bier's Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee "In a Better World" drew big crowds at home and abroad, and Janus Metz' "Armadillo" raised the bar for war reporting. The duo of Lindholm & Noer made a strong showing with their uncompromising first feature "R", and toward the end of the year "Clown" proved that a comedy, when served up with a dollop of acute satire, can easily match the boxoffice records of bygone years.

With titles ranging from popular blockbusters to powerful artistic statements, 2010 was indeed a tribute to diversity.

In terms of policy, the ideal of a broad film culture was recently enshrined in the new Danish Film Agreement for the next four years, which guarantees a framework for artistic experimentation and mainstream films alike, along with talent development and innovation.

It's satisfying to note that policy-makers in the film and media area have been ready to meet the critique voiced by the Danish Film Institute and the industry in ensuring more flexibility and dynamism in the funding system. That it was possible, moreover, to maintain an unchanged level of public funding despite the financial crisis must be considered a truly satisfactory outcome.

Looking ahead, a refreshingly diverse line-up of Danish films in 2011 shows every indication of a challenging year to come.

We kick off in Berlin with emerging filmmakers and no less than three features competing in the Generation programmes. Danish children and youth films have traditionally made a strong showing, thanks to the National Film Act earmarking one quarter of public film funding to productions for young audiences.

Later in the year, we can look forward to first and second films by fresh talents, uncompromising art house works, dramas and comedies by seasoned filmmakers, a handful of animated features – and, no doubt, a fascinatingly chilling experience brought on by veteran filmmaker Lars von TrieR.

I, for one expect the best.